Racial Hygiene

Racial Hygiene

Everyone knows that eugenics was one of the ideological pillars of Nazism. What is less well known is that the practice began in the United States at the start of the 20th century.

Before being employed by the Nazis in what remains the most deadly program of “racial purification”, eugenics was a very popular concept among scientists in the United States and Europe. The science of “good birth”, which aims to create the perfect human being, sets out to achieve this by preventing reproduction of those perceived as weak, sick, disabled, or otherwise “degenerate”.

As early as 1907, the United States applied the first eugenics laws, which continued to be in force until the 1970s. More than 60,000 people were denied children under widespread campaigns of forced sterilization. In Sweden, 63,000 people were sterilized, mostly after the Second World War. This involved those with mental problems, epileptics, and the “weak-minded” – as well as those considered unable to take care of their children or else single mothers on welfare, certain minorities and the poor.

The film switches deftly between the explanation of historians and the testimony of victims who continue to struggle for recognition of the harm they have suffered, which has been erased from the collective memory. From North Carolina to Sweden and Germany, a terrifying journey into this quest for the “best of worlds”.

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